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*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back
**Lines are opening numbers
Record: 58-66 | Units: -10.92 | ROI: -9.02%
Kyle Kuzma was downgraded to out overnight due to a sprained ankle. The loss is a big one, as Kuzma has improved the Wizards’ net rating by 4.6 points every 100 possessions on the floor this season. Washington is not hitting on all cylinders either, coming into this game 4-9 SU and ATS since the All-Star break. Their defense, which will suffer without Kuzma’s rebounding, has been among the worst in the NBA over that span. The Magic do not come into this meeting in great form either though. Since the All-Star break Orlando is 5-8 SU and ATS. Its defense, which was the 10th best unit from the beginning of January up until the All-Star break, has allowed 116.7 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time.
The market’s adjustment here has been to move 1.5 points in Orlando’s direction and cut the total by 2.5 points. However, in two games this season this matchup has averaged 104.5 possessions, and neither team comes in playing particularly well on defense. Should this total continue to drop I would expect some buyback even with the absence of Kuzma.
Bet: OVER 225
It is easy to understand why anyone would have come down on their perception of Boston. The Celtics are 5-6 SU/4-7 ATS in their last 11 games with a +1.1 net rating in non-garbage time. Offense has been the driving force behind this slump for Boston. In these 11 games it is averaging just 114.8 points per 100 possessions, and that is due to a prolonged shooting slump. Over this span Boston is still taking 45.5% of their attempts from beyond the arc, but they are shooting only 36.0% on those shots. If they can find their shot then the bounce back should be quick.
Despite this slump the Celtics have still outscored their opponents every 100 possessions, and that is largely due to their defense. They have limited their 11 opponents over this span to just 113.6 points per 100 possessions which is the sixth best defensive rating in that time. They should still be able to defend at a high level tonight, and with Jaylen Brown available and Robert Williams back in the fold this looks like an advantageous buy-low spot for the Celtics. Especially with Sacramento coming in on no rest.
Bet: Celtics (-4.5)
Best Bet Recap
Wizards/Magic OVER (225)
NBA Games & Odds
The betting market has jumped on Atlanta this morning and driven this number up to 13.5 consensus. On the surface it makes sense to fade Detroit. The Pistons are 1-12 SU/5-8 ATS since the All-Star break, and they have been outscored by 8.9 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time over that span. Their offense has been the worst in the league, and their injury report grows game-by-game. Today, five major role players are out and two more - R.J. Hampton and Isaiah Livers - are questionable to play. It’s certainly understandable to fade the worst team in the league, but the Hawks have shown nothing to warrant laying this number.
Atlanta is 4-6 SU and ATS since Quin Snyder took over, and its defense has allowed 119.9 points per 100 possessions in those 10 games. Over the weekend that unit gave up 1.25 per possession to San Antonio and the Hawks lost the game outright as 10.5-point favorites. Even against a team like Detroit a better in-game opportunity is likely to become available for those who want to back Atlanta.
Brooklyn’s loss to Denver on Sunday dropped it to 0-3 SU and ATS in its last three games, and 6-10 SU/8-8 ATS since the roster was overhauled. Over those 16 games the Nets have averaged 110.8 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time, and they are the second least transition offense at 1.126 points per play. However, their offensive game plan could work here against Cleveland. The Nets take 37.0% of their attempts from beyond the arc, and the weakest aspect of the Cavaliers’ defense has been along the perimeter where opponents are shooting 37.9%. Jarrett Allen’s potential return does not heavily impact Cleveland’s perimeter defense either, but essentially betting on a hot shooting night from the Nets is a dangerous game. The market has moved a half-point in the Cavaliers’ direction, likely due to Allen’s presence, but other than that it's been mostly stuck on the opening numbers.
As has become the norm in this column, I will warn those who are looking to just blindly fade teams like San Antonio. The Spurs are 5-7 SU/6-6 ATS in the 12 games since the All-Star break and ruining plenty of moneyline parlays tied to the opponents of these tanking teams. New Orleans just split a two-game series with Houston and is 5-10 SU/6-9 ATS with the sixth worst offensive rating in the NBA over that span. San Antonio has plenty of absences tonight, including Jeremy Sochan, Zach Collins and likely Tre Jones so the market is up to 12.5 as of this morning, but the Pelicans have not shown themselves to be a team capable of covering such a number.
Los Angeles is 5-0 SU/4-1 ATS in the last five games that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have both played, and both are going to be on the floor tonight. The Clippers are clearly working out their rotations ahead of the postseason, so it has led to some volatility in their results and it has made it hard to run to the window and back them. Especially because of their play defensively. Since the All-Star break Los Angeles has allowed 116.7 points per 100 possessions, and while their defense has improved during this winning stretch there is still a matchup problem here. The Thunder have a guard that can get to the rim, something that has bothered the Clippers all season long. It is why this total has climbed as high as 238.5 consensus. As someone who rates Los Angeles pretty highly I believe there is a small bit of value in laying 6.5 here, but I think there has been plenty of evidence that this matchup could provide some problems for the Clippers.